Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Time Marches On

 Dedicated to Jimmy ... who made me a Metallica fan

Thirty years ago, on September 27th,  a winning draw of the ace of spades won bassist Cliff Burton his bunk choice on the Metallica tour bus. Pointing to guitarist Kirk Hammet, he stated "I want your bunk!" Hours later, a tragic bus accident would take Cliff's life when he was thrown out of that very bunk window. He was 24 years old.

Cliff Burton didn't play the bass. Cliff Burton was an extension of the bass.                          
Cliff's genius was heard in songs such as (Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Orion, and The Call of Ktulu. The bass did not take a back seat with Cliff. He moved right up next to James Hetfield and Kirk and owned it. In 1986, with three albums to their name and growing fame and success, questions arose about how they would go on without Cliff and his monumental sound.

Well, the fact that Metallica just played the Apollo Theater tells you that they've survived the loss of Cliff and seemingly moved on. However, where would they be if Cliff were alive?Jason Newsted and Robert Trujillo have definitely not led the band astray (We'll let Lars take some credit for that). But their style differences are noticed. Come on, haven't you ever wondered what One would have sounded like with Cliff? Would we have gotten albums like the Black album, or would Cliff et al just kept on pumping out eight minute tracks that guaranteed little air play?

Overall, would Cliff be happy? Yes. The band he loved found success through many trials and tribulations, addictions and pyrotechnic accidents and personality conflicts. After his death, they picked up and found a new bassist because they knew that is what he would have wanted. After some wishy washy albums, they're back and have been touring since 2008. And they sound better each time I see them. From the hills of Tennessee to the field of Yankee Stadium, Metallica has survived.

If you had asked me in 1988 when I was first introduced to Metallica, I really didn't think they would named the pioneers  of metal. I think my personal tipping point was the Black album in 1991. Cult status until the first chords of Sad But True were heard - Metallica was here to stay.

But my love of Metallica is also bittersweet and tainted with ironic coincidence. The boy who introduced me to the band was also lost on this same day in 1999. I can't see a cover or a shirt with Lady Justice and not think of those days of our young innocence. I am so thankful for being introduced to the band that still has relevance in my life and reminds me of so many fun times.

Cliff has been gone longer than he roamed the earth, and he still has not been forgotten. If anything, Cliff Burton is larger than his sound. He is remembered for being a pioneer of a bass sound that only rhythm guitars had. His legacy is strong and is a testament to his craft that he not only loved, but lived. Cliff, will be forever remembered as the fist pumping, beer chugging, bass shredding bad ass from Metallica and we would have it no other way.

Remembering Cliff at the Apollo 2013 Show 

To Live is to Die ~ Metallica:
In Memory of Cliff Burton
When a man lies, he murders some part of the world.
These are the pale deaths which men miscall their lives.
All this I cannot bear to witness any longer.
Cannot the Kingdom of Salvation take me home?

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